Your Health

Quitting Smoking

Why should I quit smoking?

Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your health and reduce your risk of disease and premature death. Not only will you reduce your health risks, you will also save a lot of money and improve your overall quality of life. Quitting smoking will also help your children lead healthier lives.

Smoking may harm your unborn child. Women who become pregnant should quit smoking immediately. Studies have shown that if you quit before you are pregnant or even during the first trimester, your risk of having a baby with a low birth weight will be the same as if you never smoked.

Note: If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, you should not use nicotine-replacement products unless your doctor advises you to do so.

What are the effects of smoking?

Many different researchers have proven that smoking presents numerous long-term risks to you and the people around you. If you smoke you may affect:

  • Yourself — You are more likely to suffer from cancers (particularly lung cancer), heart attacks, and strokes. You also increase your chances of colds, flu, temporary infertility, and, for men, erectile difficulties.
  • Your partner — Smoking may have a negative effect on your partner’s health, increasing his or her risk of lung cancer and heart attacks.
  • Your children — Smoking increases the likelihood that children will develop infections and asthma and that they will become smokers themselves.

How can I quit smoking?

No matter how long you have smoked, you can quit successfully if you are ready to try and determined to follow through. There are many different ways to quit smoking. The “cold turkey” approach works for some people but it can be difficult, particularly if you smoke more than a pack a day. Quitting smoking usually takes more than just will power.

You can improve your chances of quitting successfully by making relatively simple lifestyle modifications. You may also want to use a non-prescription product or prescription medication. One of the keys to quitting successfully is to find a method that works for you. Don’t get discouraged if you try one and it doesn’t work — just maintain your commitment and consider trying another approach.

Lifestyle modifications

Ask yourself: Why do I smoke? Finding answers to this question may help you stop the process that leads to you lighting up. For example, you may smoke to relax. Instead of smoking, find other, healthier ways to relieve tension, such as exercise, breathing exercises, relaxation tapes, or social activities.

Here are a few other tips to help you quit:

  • Gradually cut down before you quit.
  • Tell people you are quitting and ask for their support.
  • Just before you quit, throw away all your cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays, and other smoking paraphernalia.
  • Try exercising (don’t overdo it) to help distract you from your smoking urges and avoid weight gain. Researchers have found that exercise improves the chances of quitting successfully.

Non-prescription products

Nicotine gum and nicotine skin patches are over-the-counter products that can help you quit by providing controlled nicotine doses in a non-tobacco form to help reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine gum
Nicotine gums double your chances of quitting successfully. Nicotine gum isn’t the same as regular chewing gum — you need to use it properly to get an effective nicotine dose. Whenever you crave a cigarette, chew the gum until it tastes peppery, then tuck it in your upper cheek. Your body will absorb the nicotine. Most people use nicotine gum regularly for three to six months, then taper off and stop using it. There is a small chance that swallowing nicotine in your saliva may cause indigestion or mild nausea.

Nicotine skin patches
Skin patches double your chances of being smoke-free after one year compared to people who do not use the patch to quit. Wearing the patch allows your body to absorb nicotine through the skin. Your Peoples pharmacist will help you find the right strength and brand of patch for your needs. Most people use the patch for eight to twelve weeks, but if you need to use it for longer it is safe to do so. Never smoke while using the patch. Take it off first if you decide to have a cigarette.

Sometimes the patch causes side effects, including itching, redness, or a burning feeling where it is applied. A few people experience nausea or difficulty sleeping.

Do not use the patch if you have a skin condition or a medical condition (for example, you’ve had a heart attack in the previous one or two weeks or a recent stroke). Talk to your Peoples pharmacist before using the patch if you have chest pains, heart problems, or other medical conditions such as diabetes.Prescription medications
Researchers have found that bupropion can help when taken for one week before quitting and then for six weeks after quitting. You can combine it with the nicotine patch.

What about weight gain and depression?

Quitting can have other side effects such as weight gain or depression. If you’re worried about gaining weight, improve your diet and exercise regularly. You may want to use nicotine gum to help delay weight gain while you get your diet and exercise together. If you feel depressed or low after quitting, talk to your doctor and find out if you need treatment.

Where can I find more information about quitting smoking?

For more information about your medications or other health issues:

  • talk to your Peoples pharmacist
  • read People First, a health magazine of practical information available free from your local Peoples Drug Mart or Peoples Pharmacy

Other Resources

B.C. Smoker’s Helpline
1-877-455-2233

Canadian Cancer Society
B.C. and Yukon Division
565 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 4J4
Toll-free: 1 888 939-3333
www.cancer.ca

The Lung Association
3 Raymond Street, Suite 300
Ottawa, ON K1R 1A3
Tel: 1-888-566-LUNG ( 1-888-566-5864)
www.lung.ca

Health Canada’s Quit 4 Life
program for teenagers
www.quit4life.com

« back to Health Guides